Coming, new norms to curb misuse of IT Act - The New Indian Express

Coming, new norms to curb misuse of IT Act

Published: 30th November 2012 10:03 AM

Last Updated: 30th November 2012 10:03 AM

Days after the uproar over the arrest of two girls in Maharashtra under Section 66A of the Information Technology (IT) Act, the Centre on Thursday issued an advisory to the state governments highlighting fresh operational guidelines for invoking the controversial Act. The decision was taken during a meeting of Cyber Regulation Advisory Committee to review the IT Act.

According to new operational guidelines, the police station incharge or station house officer would not register any complaints under Section 66A unless he or she has obtained prior approval from an officer of the Deputy Commissioner of Police rank in rural and urban areas and Inspector General rank officer in metros.

“So far, there is no proposal to amend the IT Act as the matter should be taken up in Parliament. The government has issued operational guidelines so that a senior officer can exercise due diligence before deciding to register a case under the Act. Some at the meeting raised concern over how this particular Section was being misused. Hopefully, operational guidelines will address these concerns,” sources said.

Last week, Shaheen Dhada and Renu Srinivasan were arrested at Palghar in Maharashtra over a Facebook post, criticising a bandh-like situation in Mumbai following the death of Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray.

In another development on Wednesday, a 19-year-old boy was detained and questioned by the Palghar Police for posting allegedly objectionable comments against Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray. During the course of inquiry, it was found that a fake account in his name was used to post the comment. Though the boy was let off, a case has been filed against an unknown person under the IT Act.

Sources said the Palghar case was discussed during the advisory meeting and the new operational guidelines would ensure that such incidents do not repeat in future.

“There are procedural difficulties. But once the guidelines are circulated to all the state govts, the complaints under IT Act will have to be registered by following that regulation,” sources said.

According to Section 66A of the IT (Amendment) Act,  “any person violating the law shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term that may extend to three years and with fine.”

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